The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been identified as the least affordable area in Britain, while East Ayrshire in Scotland remains the most affordable, Nationwide Building Society’s newly released Local Affordability Report reveals.
The study found that the North East has the smallest gap between least and most affordable boroughs, but London has the largest.
Based on the latest data, Kensington and Chelsea remains the least affordable local authority in London and by extension Great Britain, with a house price to earnings ratio (HPER) of 14.7.
Oxford remains the least affordable area in the South East, with house prices 10.1 times average earnings in the region, up from 9.2 a year ago. House prices in Oxford have risen 14% over the past year, one of the strongest increases in the South East.
Hertsmere in Hertfordshire continues to be the least affordable local authority in the East of England government region, with average prices 10 times average earnings. This area is traditionally prime London commuter territory, taking in towns such as Borehamwood and Potters Bar.
Most authorities in the South West have seen a deterioration in affordability over the last year, but Cotswold replaced Bath and North East Somerset as the least affordable area, with a house price earnings ratio of 8.6. This district includes sought after towns such as Cirencester, Tetbury and Moreton-in-Marsh.
Rutland, the smallest historic county in England, remains the least affordable authority in the East Midlands, while in the West Midlands it is Malvern Hills.
In Yorkshire and The Humber, the district of Ryedale in North Yorkshire continues to have the highest house price to earnings ratio, despite seeing weaker price growth over the last year than most of the region. This predominately rural area includes towns such as Malton and Pickering.
The least affordable area in the North West government region is South Lakeland in Cumbria, which includes parts of the popular Lake District national park, including Ambleside and Windermere.
In Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan replaced Cardiff as the least affordable area. Prices in the Vale, which includes Barry, rose by 17% year-on-year, reflecting a trend in Wales of stronger price growth in areas outside of the major cities.
While in Scotland, Edinburgh continues to have the highest house price to earnings ratio, average house prices in the capital are significantly higher than other parts of Scotland.
North Tyneside is the least affordable area within the North East, although average prices are only around four times average earnings, so this is still relatively affordable compared to some of the other locations in our list. The North East region also has the smallest gap between the least and most affordable authorities.
Andrew Harvey, senior economist at Nationwide, said: “Our recent Affordability Report identified that affordability was becoming more stretched across all regions. However, there is also considerable variation within those regions and in this special report we explore this further.
“We’ve updated our local affordability metrics, which use house price and earnings data from the Land Registry & Office for National Statistics (ONS) to give the most comprehensive view at a local level.”
Most affordable areas
Nationwide also looked at the most affordable areas, based on the local authorities with the lowest first-time buyer house price to earnings ratio within each region.
East Ayrshire, in Scotland, continues to be the most affordable authority in Great Britain, with average first-time buyer house prices just 2.4 times average earnings. East Ayrshire covers a large geographic area to the south of Glasgow, but its main towns are Kilmarnock and Cumnock.
Copeland remains the most affordable area in the North West of England, despite average prices rising 11% over the last year. While the area includes parts of the western Lake District, its main settlements are along the Cumbrian coast from Millom to Whitehaven.
In the North East, County Durham has the lowest house price to earnings ratio at 3.1. Covering a relatively large area, it is quite mixed and includes the cathedral city of Durham, former mining towns such as Bishop Auckland, and ‘new towns’ Peterlee and Newton Aycliffe.
Merthyr Tydfil remains the most affordable local authority in Wales. The town has a rich industrial heritage and while average house prices have risen over the past year they are still amongst the lowest in the principality.
Barnsley has replaced North East Lincolnshire as the most affordable area in the Yorkshire and The Humber government office region.
In the West Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent continues to have the lowest house price to earnings ratio at 3.8. While Stoke has seen a pickup in price growth over the last year, it remains the cheapest area in the region by some margin.
In the East Midlands, the district of Bolsover remains the most affordable and also lowest priced area.
On the east coast, Great Yarmouth in Norfolk continues to have the lowest house price to earnings ratio in the East of England region, despite seeing above average price growth over the last year.
Swindon remains the most affordable area in the South West, with a house price earnings ratio of 5.4. While prices in Swindon have risen over the last year, they remain lower than some of the surrounding areas in part due to relatively high levels of new housing construction.
Southampton has replaced Dover as the most affordable region in the South East region, with average first time buyer prices 5.6 times average earnings. Southampton is also the cheapest area in the region, with relatively low price growth over the last year.
Bromley is the most affordable borough in London, though its house price earnings ratio of 7.4 is still higher than most local authorities across the country. Indeed, Bromley is less affordable than the least affordable authorities in seven out of the 11 regions.
Harvey added: “London has by far the greatest gap between the least and most affordable boroughs, while the North East has the smallest.”